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How to Find the Right Truck Driving Classes near Harvest Alabama

Harvest Alabama tractor trailer carrying cargoCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Harvest AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Harvest residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

Harvest Alabama tractor trailer traveling down road

To operate commercial vehicles legally within Harvest AL and throughout the United States, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate with Class A licenses are:

  • Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
  • Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
  • Tanker Trucks
  • Livestock Carriers
  • Class B and Class C Vehicles

Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive with Class B licenses are:

  • Tractor Trailers
  • Dump Trucks
  • Cement Mixers
  • Large Buses
  • Class C Vehicles

Both Class A and Class B Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Research a Truck Driver School

Harvest Alabama concrete truck with flag paint job

Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Harvest AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Harvest AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Harvest AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Harvest AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Harvest AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Harvest AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Harvest AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Harvest AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Harvest AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Learn More About Harvest Truck Driving Schools

Choose the Best Harvest Truck Driver Training

Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Harvest Alabama.

 

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